Giving red America a reason to love electric vehicles

electric vehicle battery

Electric vehicles are rare in Moses Lake, Washington, a small city in the fertile Columbia Basin about a three-hour drive east of Seattle. In that conservative farms-and-factories community, few people have the cash or the inclination. The only electric vehicle I saw during a two-day visit last month was a Tesla in the hotel parking lot.

Over the next few years, however, hundreds of Moses Lake residents are going to be entering the electric vehicle business. Two companies, attracted by cheap hydropower, are opening plants there, each backed by $100 million in federal money, to produce a key ingredient for electric vehicle batteries.

The investment is part of the roughly $500 billion the Biden administration is marshaling to transform an economy fueled by carbon into one fueled by clean, renewable energy, and it illustrates a gamble at the heart of that broader effort.

Instead of delivering electric vehicles, solar panels and other green technologies at the lowest possible cost, no matter their country of origin, the Biden administration is determined to use this opportunity to expand domestic manufacturing. And it is concentrating much of that effort in rural and Rust Belt communities, where reactionary politics have taken hold most strongly. The plan to combat global warming is also a bid for industrial revival and a transformed political landscape.

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